The Origins of Our Club
The Worcester Norton Shooting Club was formed in 1983 on part of the 60-acre site of the original barracks of the historic and distinguished Worcestershire Regiment.
The Army presence ended in 1972 when a Royal Signals unit withdrew from the site. The barracks had also seen occupation by other regiments including; The Royal Welsh Fusiliers, The Enniskillen's and the Lancashire Regiment; all have which have subsequently been amalgamated into new regiments of the British Army.
Some 15 acres of the site were purchased from the Ministry of Defence; the Sports Council provided the funding subject to its exclusive use as a Sporting Facility. The site currently supports cricket, croquet, football and target shooting sports amongst others.
The name Norton Camp can be traced back to 1749 when it is documented as an area for training and shooting practise used by several local militia units. The photograph at the top of this page shows militia officers and men at Norton Camp in 1877. The Worcester Norton site is listed by Sport England as "a site of Historical Interest; its shooting connections having some of the longest documented use of any in the country”.
The Board of Directors of Worcester Norton Sports Club Limited was formed some 12 months after the Shooting Club, and works began on renovations and the operation of the other facilities within the site. The main achievement being the conversion of the Worcestershire Regiment Sergeants’ Mess to its present use as the Clubhouse.
The Clubhouse, with Bar and Function Rooms
When the Hockey Club and the Taverners Cricket Club initially negotiated the purchase with the Ministry of Defence (MOD), Graham S Lane and fellow Founder Member Mick Haughty were approached to establish the use of the original two 30 yard Gallery Ranges which then formed the basis of the Shooting Club.
At that time ranges were referred to as A and B, however shortly afterwards they were renamed in honour of the 17th and 18th century Founding Colonels of the Worcestershire Regiment, Farrington and Charlemont (pronounced Shar - le - mon).
Prior to the demolition of the Barracks the names of Farrington and Charlemont could be seen engraved in the stone lintels of the two buildings each side of the Parade Ground, now the cricket pitch.
The centre, 50 yard, range was constructed by club members in 1987 using earth from the link road construction which was taking place some 300 yards behind the ranges at that time. The name "Freeman Range" being taken from the name of our then Club Chairman - John Freeman - whose idea it was to utilise the area between the two existing ranges.
Funding to build the Freeman Range was assisted by holding floodlit Clay Pigeon Shoots, which developed into a major Midlands event, attracting National British Champions in a serious competitive environment. Funding was also provided by RA and local Council grants and loans, culminating in the opening of the range in 1987.
Norton Barracks circa 1930
An area within our Club site has also been set aside for Practical Shotgun disciplines. This required Planning Permission for three large earth bunds to be constructed to safely enclose the shooting area. Again members rallied to ensure construction was completed quickly and to specification. Saturday Competitions and other regular events have ensured its great success ever since.
Norton Barracks in 1945
The Shooting Club was registered in its own right some 12 months prior to the official formation of The Worcester Norton Sports Club Limited and was in operation long before the first Hockey or Cricket Matches were played on the new site. The Shooting Club also participated actively and with some success in the Worcestershire Air Rifle league until its dissolution in 1996. The section continues to participate in other National Leagues and events.
The WNSC Range Complex
As currently configured there are 6 outdoor ranges, shown in the aerial photo above they are:
A - Dancox, airgun Field Target Range.
B - Cambrai, practical shotgun.
C - Charlemont, 25 yards, 10 firing points with 6 covered.
D - Freeman, 50 yards, 12 firing points with 8 covered.
E - Farrington, 25 yards, 10 firing points with 6 covered
F - Heston, 30 yard airgun, 6 covered points.
As part of our ‘Young Persons Development Programme’ - Air Rifle and Air Pistol shooting continues to prove popular with the under-14 age group who are trained under strict supervision. Many of our volunteer supervisors are NRA Range Officers as well as being CRB Registered.
A dedicated outdoor 20 metre air rifle range was opened in 1999. Again constructed by a dedicated group of Club Members and as a direct response to requests from local residents.
Charlton Heston, international screen actor, film director and President of the National Rifle Association of America, visited the WNSC on 5 August 1999 when he graciously agreed that the Air Rifle range should be known as "Heston" in honour of his first visit to a UK Shooting Club and in acknowledgement of his appointment as Honorary Life Member of the Club. He remained interested in the club and in contact with members until his death in 2010.
Charlton Heston at the WNSC Ranges
Further major developments took place in 2010 and 2012 with improvements to range safety throughout the site being recognised by National Police Improvements Authority approval, which is monitored by West Midlands Police. As a direct result of this effort the WNSC range complex is currently used as a training facility by police offers from West Midlands, West Mercia, Gloucester and the MOD as well as various Cadet Forces and Military Units.
In 2012 the Heston range was extended to 30 metres, then in 2013 a second airgun range was developed (the Dancox Range) next to Cambrai Range. Additionally range users benefit from having “The Barracks” canteen located just behind the ranges. This modern facility provides an excellent meeting point for up to 60 people, with catering and toilet facilities.
The membership of Worcester Norton Shooting Club - of all sections - currently exceeds 350. The club maintains an active participation in local, national and international events covering a wide range of disciplines including Air and CO2 Rifle and Pistol, Small Bore, Full Bore, Gallery Rifle (underlever), Muzzle Loading Rifle and Pistol, Practical Rifle, Practical Shotgun and Clays. Recent additions to activities seen on the ranges have included cannon, archery and crossbow shooting.
Member's interests cover a wide area, including: pest control, deer stalking, game hunting, collecting antique and deactivated firearms, historical re-enactment, military history and military vehicles.